We warn BSers all the time that EssaySnark is not an editor — and we even try to discourage some people from signing up for our consulting services at all when there’s not a good fit between how we operate and what their needs or expectations may be. So along those same lines, we thought we’d toss out some comments today on what, exactly, you’re paying for when you sign up for the Essay Decimator especially.
We try to keep our pricing low since a) we’re more of a self-service, do-it-yourself kind of support system, wherein we give you the tools and the info you need to succeed, and then it’s up to you to execute, and we’re not so big on hand-holding; and b) MBA admissions is competitive, even in a softening market, and (qualified) admissions consulting can absolutely tip the balance and make a tangible difference in outcomes, and we don’t believe that a six-figure salary should be a pre-requisite to getting such assistance with one’s applications.
But this is not a commodity service. There is a HUGE difference in outcomes that applicants may experience when they go with, again, a qualified consultant and one who’s just starting out, or who lacks the deep experience that comes only from working with many many applicants to many many schools over many many seasons.
We’re not editing your essays and that means what?
That means we’re assessing them. Evaluating them. Looking at them through the lens of “What does THIS school respond to” and “How does THIS applicant’s” — that means you — “profile stack up against the applicant pool at THIS school” and very specifically, “What has THIS adcom done with similar profiles in the just-past round or season?”
These things can only be considered when there’s that deep experience with others like you who are trying for this particular program.
If we were only editing essays (which in some contexts might be ethical, such as when you’re in the final round of revision for your 150-page doctoral dissertation that must conform to APA style — but which is not ethical for MBA applications) then we would charge by the word. That’s the standard practice for such services. But that’s not the service that you’re getting with us. You’re getting qualitative feedback in a specialized context. It’s more akin to the services that an attorney or CPA would provide in a sticky legal or tax situation. You’re paying for our level of experience, and our insights into your exact situation, and our ability to tell you what works and what doesn’t in a strategic sense. It’s not just “read this 250 words and see if the sentences make sense” — it’s “read this and see if it makes sense AND does it answer the question AND is it a story that conveys something meaningful for your app AND is it at least as good if not better than the content that other applicants like you are submitting.”
You’ll get pages and pages of comments and gobs of inline notes about what you’ve written. Each of these reviews requires tremendous work — and yes, a 1,000 word HBS essay takes significantly longer to get through than a single 250-word essay, but every essay takes a real chunk of time, and there’s not that much difference in work effort and mental expenditure on our side between 250 or 300 or 500 words. ALL of the essays require these specialized skills and are mentally taxing to review well. That’s why we must put in constraints on the services we sell, like only 10% overlimit, and no more than 4 essays in the standard purchase (though add-ons are available if a specific program requires more essays than that).
So hopefully that makes sense, and better explains why, for example, we have the limits of one degree-granting program per Essay Decimator, so that if you’re trying for Wharton Lauder we can effectively support you with all the writing — and all the thinking — that needs to go into a good application. There are way more variables in play for those dual-degree programs and so pitching them well and keeping all angles under consideration makes for a more complex review. Thus, additional fees are required to help you make sure you’re covering all of your bases in the more complex scenario that that represents.
You can read up on some of these issues in our HELP FAQ where we talk about the Essay Decimator process and what we support. We can always support your needs regardless of what you’re trying for, but we do need to be compensated for the advantage that it can offer when your requirements are greater than the standard.